It’s London Rivers Week this week and the whole city is encouraged to get out and explore rivers. Whether its the mighty Thames or the humble hidden Walbrook that inspires you, we’ve got all you need to make the most of the rivers London has to offer.
The River Thames has been a focal point for London since the Roman Britain . An important maritime route, freshwater source and boundary. Indeed it was once rather famously called “liquid history”. To get a true sense of the historical importance of the Thames grab Rhinebeck’s Map of Nelson’s London c. 1806 which shows a panoramic view of the city westwards from the yet-to-be-built Tower Bridge with the river slicing through the centre.
Perhaps you prefer your history served with a pint and a pack of salt & vinegar? In that case we’ve got you covered too with A Historical Riverside London Pub Walk . This little pocket sized guide book will guide you through the history of Wapping and the old docks that was home to shipbuilders, pirates, smugglers and pilgrims.
From Source to Sea by Tom Chesshyre
Of course the beauty of the Thames stems far beyond the city walls. In his new book From Source to Sea, Tom Chesshyre chronicles his 215 mile walk from the Cotswolds to the North Sea, the entire length of the river, providing insight on only the natural history of the river (its meadowbanks and dockyards) but also its living present and the many people who live and work with the river.
Indeed, if you wanted to trace a little of the history of this epic journey yourself we also have The Oarsman and Anglers Map of the River Thames 1893 map which folds out over 8 feet to show the river from its source down to London Bridge. First published when commercial traffic had almost completely ended, this map gives clearances at bridges, locks and boatyards for boaters.
London’s Hidden Rivers by David Feathers
If you’re a long time Londoner then you may be well acquainted with the Thames, but that’s no excuse not to explore some of London’s old subterranean rivers. Walks following the routes of the Fleet, the Westbourne, the Neckinger and more are included in David Feathers’ new book London’s Hidden Rivers which also provide wonderfully insightful gems of river-based trivia. And you never know when you might need that in a pub quiz!
So, with all that, there really is no excuse not to get out and show London’s rivers some love. London Rivers Week activities, talks and walks run throughout the week (26th June – 2nd July). For more detail see: Thames21.org.uk/londonriversweek.